October 6, 2013


CRD's October Sewage-Related Meeting schedule
- A failure to consult (link to long article)
Video of "Central Stench" Town Hall Meet, Sept 25
Victoria sewage pollution found over wide ocean area, environmental groups say
Chemicals removed from sewage
-  Compost stink jeopardizes five-year, $4.7-million deal to process food scraps


Re-using sewer water would save costs (Atwell)
- "Capital miscalculation" (2 letters: Olson, Nielsen)



CRD Sewage Committee Meets 9 October, 9:30am

**To present, submit online form before Monday, 4:30pm: 

Selected agenda items with report links:

5. Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan Programs – 2012 Consolidated Annual Report (EPT 13-37) 

6. Technical and Financial Implications of a Regional Distributed Treatment System (CAW 13-19) (& PowerPoint Presentation) 

7. Draft Amendment No. 9 to the Core Area Liquid Waste Management Plan – Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program (EEE 13-38) 

8. Information Items:

a) Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program and Budget Update 

b) Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program Commission Request for Information 
(CAL 13-19)
Report: (not available at this time)


CRD's October Sewage-related Meeting schedule

October 9, 9:30 AM

October 23, 9:30 AM

October 23, 11:00 AM

October 23, 1:30 PM 

October 30,  9:30 AM 


A failure to consult (link to long article)

Focus Magazine
October 2013

The CRD’s own records show it failed to consult taxpayers on the financial impacts of its sewage treatment plan. That's contrary to provincial law. Was the Ministry of Environment napping on the job when it approved the CRD's plan?

Focus recently filed an FOI for the CRD’s record of public consultation on its $783 million sewage treatment plan. We did this so we could compare what the CRD invited the public to provide input on against what seems to be the minimum legal requirement for consultation. The results suggest the CRD has, in significant ways, been avoiding its legal responsibility to consult the public on this massive expenditure of public money. Moreover, giving such scant attention to public consultation would only be possible if the Ministry of Environment—the regulator watching over the process—has been sleeping on the job or looking the other way.


Video of "Central Stench" Town Hall Meet from Sept 25

Length: 1h


So far only press release available - no report. The press release suggests that sewage plant advocates had unbroken custody of their "evidence", from their divers collecting samples through to their laboratory analysis by Ishiguru. no independent analysis at all. Obvious questions include the scientific validity of the stunt, but also the real purpose. Georgia Strait Alliance said nothing during the whole Viewfield sludge plant issue, leading one to presume that their remit does not include the communities that would have to live with such a hazardous sludge plant. 

In the past, oceanographers have been skeptical of these kinds of GSA "enviro stunts", because the goal of the stunt is to pressure CRD politicians into making bad decisions, not to explore any actual impact of sewage effluent on the environment. 

Press release.

Victoria sewage pollution found over wide ocean area, environmental groups say

OCTOBER 3, 2013 07:45 PM
Sewage pollution has been found to exceed federal limits as far away as William Head, near Metchosin, and Trial Islands, near Oak Bay.
The federal government’s shellfish closure zone off Victoria should be expanded because of pollution from untreated sewage, says a group of environmental organizations.

New sampling shows sewage pollution exceeds federal limits as far away as William Head, near Metchosin, and Trial Islands, near Oak Bay, according to figures released Thursday by the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, the Georgia Strait Alliance and the David Suzuki Foundation.

Those sites are farther than Environment Canada’s current 60-square-kilometre shellfish closure zone off Greater Victoria, the groups said. They suggested expanding the closure zone to span from Race Rocks to Discovery Island.

The Capital Regional District discharges almost 130 million litres of sewage a day into the ocean through underwater outfalls off Macaulay and Clover points. The waste is screened for solids but is otherwise not treated.

“We weren’t expecting to see them this high,” said Jim McIsaac, of the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation, of the pollution levels. “The currents, obviously, are taking it.”

Divers took samples at seven locations, at depths up to 20 metres, and processed them a laboratory at the University of Victoria. The groups said they found fecal coliform levels at more than 2,400 per 100 millilitres at William Head and Trial Island West.

Environment Canada has a safe swimming water standard of 200 fecal coliforms per 100 ml, and 14 per 100 ml for shellfish pollution.

“The shellfish at the bottom of the sea are being exposed to sewage,” said John Werring of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The level off Saxe Point was 210 fecal coliforms per 100 ml, according to the groups.

“It’s shocking,” said CRD sewage director Judy Brownoff. “People who say dilution is the solution, I think this is showing it’s travelling.”

Past CRD testing has shown fecal coliform levels generally below federal limits on the surface near the two sewage outfalls, but exceeding guidelines at the bottom of the ocean floor.

The environmental groups are encouraging the CRD to push forward on its $783-million plan for secondary sewage treatment by 2018.

Critics say that plan is flawed, and the environment would be better served by a higher level of treatment using smaller plants distributed throughout the region. Other critics, including retired health officials and marine scientists, insist the sewage is dispersed safely in the cold deep currents of the Pacific Ocean.

Even after sewage treatment begins, the CRD will continue to discharge pollution into the ocean caused by urban runoff in storm water discharges, said Richard Atwell, who organizes StopaBadPlan.ca.

“Unfortunately, the federal regulations that the CRD sewage project is designed to meet won’t eliminate fecal coliforms, just reduce them to regulated levels,” he said.

Other sewage treatment critics have argued that the treatment process will do little to tackle pharmaceuticals and heavy metals found in the waste.


Chemicals removed from sewage

Richard Atwell asked 

There could be a future prize involved here... What percentage of chemicals will the CRD's secondary treatment system remove? 

Listen to this audio clip for the clue: 



CHEK footage:

Dr. Shaun Peck was given very little time to respond. Video shows unlabled petri dishes in Ishiguru's laboratory.

2011 Macaulay/Clover report has full discussion of fecal coliform in water column and water surface:


Compost stink jeopardizes five-year, $4.7-million deal to process food scraps

OCTOBER 5, 2013 09:55 PM

The stink over composting in Central Saanich is threatening to derail a $4.7-million agreement Saanich has with Michell Brothers Farm to process food scraps.

Saanich agreed to award the five-year contract to process kitchen waste from households in May — but that was before a Central Saanich uprising over odours and litter from the Foundation Organics composting operation.

“Right now, if you talk composting in our neighbourhood, it’s just so negative,” said Michell Brothers Farm owner Terry Michell.

“Our priority is our farming operation.”

Michell said he has not applied to the Capital Regional District for a licence for the composting operation. Given the complaints and uncertainty surrounding Foundation’s operation, he doesn’t know whether to sign the contract with Saanich.

Michell had planned to invest $1.25 million to $1.5 million in a state-of-the-art, in-vessel composting system to turn the food scraps into compost for its farm fields. “It’s an indoor system,” he said.

The same technology is being used in Abbotsford by Net Zero Waste to process that community’s food scraps. “There’s no odour,” said Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman. “Other than the product that is freshly dropped off that is contained within the building, there’s no smell.”

That’s not the story at Foundation Organics, which has been the subject of hundreds of complaints about odour and litter. The facility was composting food scraps collected in Oak Bay, Victoria and View Royal this summer until the CRD suspended its interim processing contract and issued a conditional suspension of its recycler licence.

Foundation has appealed, but the facility is temporarily prohibited from receiving and processing food waste.

That’s left the CRD scrambling to find processing facilities. Food scraps are being trucked over the Malahat to Fisher Road Holdings in Cobble Hill, but that operation is nearing its licensed capacity. CRD directors have decided to landfill any excess.

Central Saanich has filed a civil suit calling on the B.C. Supreme Court to order Foundation Organics to stop commercial compost production and sales, and to stop accepting material for compost. The municipality has also asked the CRD to establish a regional composting facility at Hartland.

Does that mean it doesn’t want any more composting facilities? Ryan Windsor, Central Saanich’s acting mayor, said any new facility would have to be considered on its own merits. But, he said, there’s a large group of residents concerned about composting, and they would be watching any new application closely.

Meanwhile, Saanich’s plan to have residents separate kitchen scraps from garbage is well underway. The program is being implemented before food scraps are banned from Hartland landfill in 2015, a bid to extend its lifespan.

The municipality has bought new trucks and 64,000 wheeled totes for the program expected to roll out next year.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said if Michell decides not to sign a contract, the district would have to look at either re-tendering or doing the processing itself. “But we’d have to have a location and logistics and public consultation,” he said.

Leonard said he would rather see the program delayed than have kitchen waste scraps separated from garbage, only to end up in the landfill.





Re-using sewer water would save costs (Atwell)

Re: “Tertiary sewage treatment too expensive,” letter, Sept. 28.

The writer asks how it can possibly be a minimal cost to bring a “purple pipe” carrying recycled water to homes.

One answer lies with our aging infrastructure — a Google search of “inflow-infiltration-dp” brings up the Capital Regional District web page that shows $421 million in underground repairs that must be completed.

This cost is not factored into the CRD’s sewage project, and insufficient matching funds have been committed to help pay for it. Residents of Victoria will soon start funding their share of these repairs via their new stormwater utility bill.

When you consider these inevitable repairs, piping costs are decoupled from the expense of sewage treatment, but this opportunity to provide treated water to homes will disappear without the necessary long-range community planning.

Tertiary treatment makes water safe for re-use. Look to Vernon’s irrigation program that supplies recycled water to agricultural land as just one example.

Homes will eventually be renovated to fully benefit from water re-use, but initial access for new developments and for lawn watering would be the primary application. Increasing use of treated water will also help to defer the huge cost of the future expansion of the water reservoir as our population inevitably grows.

The CRD has gone to great lengths to avoid a dollar-to-dollar comparison of its outdated plan and a forward-thinking decentralized tertiary treatment system using today’s proven technology. We are left wondering why.

Richard Atwell



Re: "Capital miscalculation" (2 letters)

I appreciated David Broadland’s article on the sewage plan and regional growth.The  metrics and their sources he describes for the CRD’s allocation of capacity to municipalities have an Alice-in-Wonderland quality—the sort you have when asking how many angels  can dance on the head of a pin. 

Why Wonderland? Because there is an elephant in the room—it is called the disamalgamated city. The current municipal structure is incapable of dealing with infrastructure—sewage, the bridge, transit, harbour—and other major services. Instead of a metropolitan approach to planning we have an odd- ball assortment of commissions, committees, metrics, meetings, plans and planners all set up to compensate for the lack of a unified city. 

As long as governance in the region is in disarray Alice in Wonderland will still be there and angels will still be dancing on pins. 

Note to province: The ship is sinking, get in there and get the amalgamation process going asap! 

Note to Focus: How about an article on the elephant in the room?

John Olson


Re: "Capital miscalculation" (September Focus)

Excellent article on the handling of sewage treatment costs and the allocation of treatment capacities. The article points out, indirectly, another area where multiple municipalities, working through the CRD, are an ineffective and inefficient way to provide major public works. If the core municipalities were unified (one municipality), there would have been no role for the CRD to play. 

The unified municipality would have been able to obtain senior government grants and planned and implemented the treatment plan through their own engineering and public works departments. Also, there would have been no need to obtain estimated initial capacities and guesstimates of future excess capacities municipality by municipality—it would simply have been a case of a single city estimating its needs and how much future growth capacity that city determined it needed. 

It would also have eliminated the possibility of municipalities potentially selling extra capacity to other municipalities that had undersestimated their long-term needs. The only reason the CRD is involved is because we have so may municipalities.

Colin Nielsen